From Aromatherapy to Phytotherapy to Naturotherapy

From aromatherapy to phytotherapy and naturopathy… it can all be a bit confusing at times.

While all these disciplines share one common feature, plants and their amazing powers, they each focus on a very specific aspect. To gain a clearer understanding, we take a closer look at their differences.

It all started with plants… and phytotherapy, a word that has become a generic term for all kinds of plant-based therapeutic methods. This word also bears witness to a long history and a journey, from China to India, passing through ancient Egypt – or how “phyto” the Greek word for plant, has been used for thousands of years to prevent and treat ailments. Phytotherapy combines plant extracts and natural active ingredients to create different remedies. Do you enjoy herbal teas? Then you’re already familiar with one kind of phytotherapy!

Essential oils at the heart of aromatherapy

Aromatherapy and naturopathy are derivatives of phytotherapy. While phytotherapy uses plants, aromatherapy revolves around the fragrant substance produced by some of these plants. When extracted in liquid form, this substance becomes an essential oil. Aromatherapy has also been practised since ancient times, but it was in the 20th century that the active effects were defined scientifically by the chemist René-Maurice Gattefossé and the doctor Jean Valnet. This discipline uses oils, diffused, massaged or taken internally (in skin care applications and for flavouring) to promote sensory pleasure. In short, it is the deliciously olfactory art of protecting and taking care of yourself.

Naturopathy, a holistic approach

Although practised as far back as in Ancient Greece, it was in the United States in 1902 that the first school of naturopathy was opened, by a doctor from Germany. What was the idea behind this approach? The body has its own self-healing mechanisms and is able to draw on these provided a patient is considered holistically, including emotions, diet and physical aspects. To activate these mechanisms and balance the body’s functioning, the naturopath combines a wide range of methods: drawing from a tool box including homeopathy, phytotherapy and aromatherapy, as well as diet, lifestyle, exercise and more.

These natural methods and treatments are attracting an increasing number of followers engaged on a constant quest for well-being.